UM a step from new peak

Julian Gamble (45) reaches in to slap away a second-half shot for Miami, which is in its first ACC tournament final.

Associated Press

Julian Gamble (45) reaches in to slap away a second-half shot for Miami, which is in its first ACC tournament final.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Durand Scott sank the shots to turn away North Carolina State's best pushes, and Shane Larkin provided the steady floor leadership that kept ninth-ranked Miami in control.

The backcourt that guided the Hurricanes to their first ACC regular-season championship now has them positioned to add the tournament title, too.

Scott scored a career-high 32 to help the Hurricanes beat the Wolfpack 81-71 on Saturday in the ACC semifinals, earning the program's first trip to the final.

Larkin added 23 for the top-seeded Hurricanes (26-6), who before Saturday had reached the semifinals just once, as a No. 12 seed making a surprise run before falling to eventual national champion Duke in 2010. Now they're heading to today's final to face No. 3 seed North Carolina.

"We're a very hungry team, and we want more and more," Larkin said. "We're not satisfied with winning the regular season. We want the ACC championship, and then eventually we want to make the national championship game. We're hungry, and we're not going to settle for anything less."

Miami led all day and by 19 late in the first half against the fifth-seeded Wolfpack (24-10), which got within six after halftime but couldn't dig out of that big hole.

Scott had a lot to do with that. The senior guard made 12 of 18 shots and 5 of 8 3-pointers to keep draining the energy from a home-state crowd wearing plenty of red.

UNC 79, MARYLAND 76: Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock scored 15 each for the Tar Heels (24-9), who head to today's final with a shot at their 18th tournament title.

The Hurricanes swept the Tar Heels in the regular-season. Their 26-point win last month at Miami led coach Roy Williams to make P.J. Hairston a starter and play with a smaller, quicker group.

"They haven't seen us with our new lineup yet," Bullock said of Miami. "We just have to get our face back. They definitely embarrassed us when we went down there … and for us to have the opportunity to play against them on the last night before we go to the NCAA Tournament is great."

Hairston scored 13 despite a heavily wrapped and injured left (nonshooting) hand for North Carolina, but his missed free throw with 16 seconds left gave seventh-seeded Maryland (22-12) a chance to force overtime.

The Terrapins called timeout with 10.9 seconds left, and Logan Aronhalt took the inbounds pass from Nick Faust and immediately launched a 30-foot airball.

.TODAY

No. 9 Miami vs.

North Carolina

When/where: 1; Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum

TV: Ch. 44

UM a step from new peak 03/16/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:06am]

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